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Calgary’s Next Economy: Endpoint Ventures is opening GIS data to the masses

Vera Green said that she still sticks with the message reflected in their original elevator pitch.

Using your geospatial data shouldn’t be expensive, tedious or hard.

That’s the barrier Green and fellow Endpoint Ventures co-founder Kier Lindsay hope to break down with their Calgary tech startup.

Green, who has a two-decade history with geospatial data management, said accessing that data is a challenge for technicians, middle managers and even some senior managers.

Geospatial data, simply put, adds a location marker to objects, events or other data that’s on the surface of the earth.

“The problem is always the same,” Green said.

“Geospatial data is big and complicated, so it’s too big to email. Most people don’t understand it very well and you generally use either a specialized software or a bunch of technical skills to access it.”

Green said it’s a barrier to knowledge and it separates entire organizations from valuable data. It’s data that they may need to use regularly.

“I see it as an access issue, which is caused by how the industry is structured, as well as the technical know-how and the time,” she said.

Making data accessible to organizations

Green said companies across North America are spending a lot of money collecting data. Even more to process the data. It impacts workflows and timelines, causing pain points in the decision-making process, she said.

“Most of the people that I work with – everyone loves maps. Everyone loves Google Maps. They love hardcopy maps, they want to be informed, and it’s often a big point of frustration,” Green said.  

“It’s one of those things where 90 per cent of the users only need five per cent of the functionality. So, why not give 90 per cent of the users five per cent of the functionality and make it really easy to use.”

It should be easy to look up and find the information one needs, Green said.

Their latest application is an auto-scaling system where a user can drag and drop a data set and it “magically” gets published, Green said.

She said that Endpoint Ventures is heavily grounded in open-source technology. They want to break down the silos and provide access to the masses.

“I really identify with that. We have the ability to bring those kinds of solutions, so that you just get out a really user-friendly something, that meets a specific need,” Green said.

Going through a huge career change: Green

Green said she’s really good at the technical side of things. She commonly referred to as a technologist, an analyst or a developer.

“I’m really good at the technical stuff. Then I have this bright idea to go into business,” she said.

“What you realize is that it’s a completely different world and a completely different skill set. It’s almost – I feel like I’m going through a huge career change.”

Green has personally had to split from the technical work to focus on running and building a business. She said that’s where the Alberta Catalyzer – Velocity program has helped.

“That’s where this program has been absolutely involving to me in bridging that gap and giving me the skills and resources to do that,” Green said.

Green said they built their first application for a financial partner that’s very large and complex. It’s been harder to sell to others, she said.

Now, they’re focused on a purpose driven application that can be broadly used and is subscription based. They have the flexibility to do both the larger projects and the mass-market ones.

With the resources built through the program, Green said she’s confident they can take their business forward.

“It’s been kind of like getting thrown into the deep end without a lifejacket. Hopefully you can swim,” she said.

“My confidence in my ability to do that has grown tremendously over the last four months. I’m excited about the future and looking forward to continuing that adventure.”